Curtain Raiser

When to Leave Is Not a Choice, Colltalers

The overweight adjectives keep piling up, even after four days of the referendum that determined the U.K.’s exit of the European Union. Stunning, shocking, astonishing. And so are the dire predictions about market turmoil and the grim economic outlook.
But while pundits are beside themselves trying to explain what happened Thursday and what happens next, it is another important event that took place in the same day that may have, potentially, a greater impact on the U.S. and likely Europe itself.
A deadlocked Supreme Court blocked President Obama’s plan to prevent millions of undocumented Americans from being deported. The court’s lack of a ninth, decisive vote thus put a final nail on the president’s two-term effort to play a meaning role in the great, unresolved drama of immigration in the U.S. This issue is thus dead here, at least until there’s a new White House resident.
The U.K. out of the E.U. has certainly serious implications, and it happened for several reasons. But the populism behind it is as illogical and baseless as a certain presidential candidate’s support to it, all the way from the other side of the pound. They share a similar, xenophobic rhetoric about immigrants robbing natives of jobs. The fact that they’re not doesn’t seem to have been a factor.
But since everyone and their forgetful aunt are on a 24/7 blabbing mode, guessing the decision’s impact on everything, from global trade to TV series Game of Thrones, we’ll return briefly to it in a moment. For unlike Brexit, immigration is the overriding issue here.
There are over 41 million foreign-born people living in the U.S., and a multiple of that number who are related by blood to immigrants. Then there are the 11 million-plus, referred to in one of the most vile speeches by a U.S. presidential contender in history, who have no papers. President Obama was trying to address only a fraction of them through an executive order.
Many are born here, and according to the Labor Dept., most work and pay taxes, but for a variety of reasons don’t qualify as residents through current laws. They are not seasonal workers or live in the U.S. with academic or working visas; they simply have American families and social connections. And no criminal record. What they don’t have, though, is a hefty banking account.
In fact, many relatives of the Chinese ruling elite, or kids of Russian oligarchs, and even family members of notorious African

despots, along jet-setters and playboys, do have U.S. Green Cards, on the sheer strength of their possibly spurious wealth, no questions asked. Many are still to set foot on the multimillion luxury condos they own in New York, or even speak English.
Regardless. Those familiar with the immigration issue, in any country, are used to dealing with policies suffused with hyperbole and grandstanding. They are usually designed to filter people not on the base of their worthiness but on the depth of their pockets.
The politicians in the Capitol Hill, as well as Supreme Court justices, have nothing to fear from the undocumented workers they consistently deny a fair shot at the so-called America Dream, even when they work on their kitchen or private golf courts. Except perhaps that when they are not around, breakfast may take a little bit longer, and the fruits and veggies are not great either.
But even abstracting the U.S.’s stature as the world’s biggest country of immigrants, or at least by far the most powerful, the way it’s been treating that almost quarter of its population, who speaks another language at home, is downright shameful. On that note, it’s inevitable to bring up what’s happening in Europe, which continues facing its biggest inflow of refugees since the war.
To many, the crisis may have exposed the E.U.’s callous approach to governing, interested only in the big savings the union would represent for corporations, and big profits for its financial system. In other words, two thousand years of political strife and ethnic hatred, but apparently there was no overall plan to deal with the social impact of suddenly tying up 28 different nations.
That’s when the American political elites’ betrayal of workers who happen to lack papers is so damaging to the U.S. For it’s another lost opportunity to compassionately lead the world, with the big plus of not having to deal with the same complications faced by Europe.
Instead of being the ones that used to say, Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free, we’re now the kind that asks you, point blank, Do you have any cash? That attitude only renders us impotent to have a say in a world to be blanketed by billions of dispossessed people, driven from one corner to the other; we, like the E.U., have nothing constructive to add.
Startling is the fact that the U.K. has been dealing with immigration issues way before the E.U. was formed. Shocking is the fact that the biggest Google search in England, Wales, Scotland and the Irelands, right after the vote, was about what the hell is the E.U. And astonishing, or not so much, is Germany, France, and other nations having already asked the U.K., why are you still here?
The 51.9% may have been sold a rotten bag of goods, and a lot of them are sporting a sore case of buyer’s regret. But chances are, it’s as a done deal as Prime Minister John Cameron’s tenure. As he was swallowed by his own political ambition, he may have managed not just to open the door for a possible return of the Labour Party to power, but also to implode the whole kingdom.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has signaled that the country may try to reverse Brexit. Since that seems remote at best, given the quickly unravel taking place in Europe, she may instead lead another go at independence from the U.K. Then, perhaps Wales will follow suit, and Northern Ireland will reunite with Ireland and… wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Sorry.
It’s really impossible to predict where it’ll all lead us, and pundits should prepare extra lozenges to babble a bit more. Sadly, what’s not going to happen, though, is the U.S. taking a leading role in the issue of immigration, starting at home, of course, in what may be the eve of great mass movements of refugees and landless hordes. Unlike Britons, they were never offered a choice. Have a great one. WC

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